#2 It's sometimes like a jigsaw puzzle, and when the picture comes together I see a new way the Lord is working in my life, and in this case, the life of my children.
My Battle Plan
One day, our oldest son was riding next to me in the van. I began teasing him by whispering his name, then turning and acting like I hadn't done it and that I thought he was crazy for thinking I had. (Silly teasing...anything to try and break his new found stoicism. :) )
This brought to mind a story from the Bible that I hadn't heard or thought about in a good, long time. Actually, I even needed the boys help to nail down that it was a story of Samuel when he was still living in the temple with the priest, Eli.
Read it here: 1 Samuel 3
"Yeah, that's a cool story," I thought, and that was that.
I sometimes like to read the devotions in In Touch magazine. I thought I had thrown my July edition away by accident so I was pleasantly surprised when I moved a couple books around and found it in my reading stack. Can you guess what the devotion was based on for July 1?
Yep, 1 Samuel 3.
(Find the devotion for that day here.)
At this point my "Spirit ears" started tingly. :)
"What should I learn here, Lord?"
At this same time:
I had come to the brink of throwing in the towel with my kids' discipline. This quote pretty much sums up the way I was feeling:
I love [these kids] more than anything in the world, but I don't really like [them] very much? We can't get along for more than ten minutes without clashing over relatively insignificant matters. Why [do these children] make me so angry, when what I want most is harmony and love? Why is our relationship so unsatisfying and disturbing? What did I do to mess up something that began with such promise and hope? Not only have I failed my [children], I have failed God, too.That's from the very last chapter of The New Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James C. Dobson.
This brings us to Sunday afternoon:
Sunday afternoon, IV was at work, I had no plans, so I took my phone, my computer, my iPod, my book, my water bottle, and some pretzel M&Ms (everything needed for survival :) ), and headed to my bed for an unauthorized day off...we'll call it my "retreat".
I left the kids in front of the TV...all day...it was amazing.
It was during this little "retreat" that the Lord brought to remembrance the book I'd been wanting to read, and it was at this time that I reached my hand out of the "depths of despair" and reached up for a little help. Thus enters The New Strong-Willed Child by Dr. James Dobson...
(After putting out some feelers on Facebook my friend Kim let me borrow the Kindle book and I ate it up like a hungry bear!)
My oldest two kids have been away at overnight camp (Woohoo!), and my second two have been going back and forth to day camp (Woohoo x2!). This has left me and "the baby", as he HATES to be called, home alone all week.
Plenty of time to read (in opposition to doing housework...blah) and plenty of time to re-hone my discipline skills.
About The New Strong-Willed Child :
For those of you feeling defeated by your strong-willed children I definitely recommend this book.
I had previously read Dr. Dobson's Dare to Discipline, as well as Shepherding a Child's Heart by Ted Tripp. Both are also excellent resources and contain much of the same discipline "techniques" that The New Strong-Willed Child does. However I found a plenitude of encouragement for the specific feeling of defeat that can come from having to do consistent battle with a brick wall (aka strong-willed kids) in this book.
This week continued:
As I was reading, I was just waiting for it...When would the story of Samuel and Eli come up?
Sure enough, there it was in Chapter 10...focusing on the judgment of the house of Eli because he failed to rebuke his sons' blatant disregard for God (1 Samuel 2:12-17, 22-25, 27-34; 3:11-14; 4:1-4, 10-22).
So, was that it?
Was that what the Lord was warming me up to hear?
The firm reminder that he takes the discipline of our children VERY seriously, and that we are to rebuke them for defiant behavior, and not stand by idly and let them wallow in it?
I believe that was it, because that's exactly what I had been tempted to do...I was just so tired of the fight...I wanted to lie down on the job...I mean, that's literally what I'd done on my Sunday afternoon "retreat".
Through continued reading, and a lot of one-on-one practice with "the baby", I feel much refreshment and am ready to re-up my commitment to teach and discipline my children the way the Lord has called me to do, but most of all I am re-committing myself to praying for my children.
This was Dr. Dobson's end-all advice for parents: PRAY. It was also included in a list of tips for getting through the turbulence of adolescence (which my children haven't even reached yet, but these tips still apply):
1. Keep the schedule simple.
2. Get plenty of rest.
3. Eat nutritious meals.
4. Stay on your knees.
Stay on your knees...and H.A.L.T.
This acronym is NOT from Dr. Dobson, but from someone Charles Stanley quoted in preaching about temptation.
When I searched it on Pinterest I found it applied to dieting, but I think it can easily apply to mothers who want to stay consistent in disciplining their children in love, because if you're anything like me you may be tempted to give up, and just let bad behavior slide. Anyway, don't ever let yourself get TOO:
I know I do my worst mothering if I'm any of those things, so H.A.L.T. is a good way to remember it...but really, staying on your knees in prayer is above all.
Along with prayer, teaching our children the Word is of utmost importance. I don't think it's a mistake that Dr. Dobson quoted Deuteronomy 6:6-9 twice in his book:
6 These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. 7 Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. 8 Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 9 Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.I want to bathe my household in Scripture...I want to bleed it onto them. How's that for a picture? :)
There are many other things I could quote from the book but if you're still reading this post then you should just get the book yourself, or borrow it from a friend like I did. :)
The last thing I'll say is that "LOVE covers over a multitude of sins", and that I've been reminded that the Lord has given me this job of "mother", and it's not to be taken lightly, and it will not always be fun or easy. Having kids is a big investment, and it can bring you to a place of brokenness at that drop of a hat...I know this...
That's why I was blown over when I got to the end of this book and Dr. Dobson quoted the exact passage from a C.S. Lewis book that I had quoted to my Life Group at church on the morning before my "retreat". How did I miss how well this applies to my children??:
Loving my kids is one of the best investments I'll ever make...no matter the cost.
I'm fighting to the end by staying on my knees.